Thursday, April 20, 2006

Crime, Clarke, Compensation and Cluelessness

Tim goes off the deep-end at this latest outpouring of arrant nonsense from the execrable safety elephant.

He points out, pithily, that there might be better sources for the estimated savings of ~£5m per annum:

Do you know what else costs some 5 million a year? Subsidising the snouts in the trough in Parliament. Literally:
parliament's £5.7m annual catering subsidy


I heard this report on the Today programme this morning and thought vaguely to myself:
Cutting the compensation for wrongful convictions in favour of taxpayer payouts to the victims of actions by criminals? This is all the wrong way round surely?
Tim's last line to his post crystallises my unease:
If we as a society get things wrong and imprison the innocent it is our duty, as that very society, to both say sorry and to compensate them as best we can. What we offer can only ever be inadequate but to deny this moral fact, to save the price of MP's pork pies?
You fuck Clarke, for shame.

Cutting the compensation to victims of errors by the state is clearly morally wrong. The state makes a mistake that ruins the lives of those affected: the state should pay up.  Those operating the systems of the state ought also to be held to account for the waste of taxpayers' money, but that is a separate issue.

However, Clarke is proposing to use these savings to pay out to victims of the crimes of others. This is total bollocks. The state does not have the same duty to compensate the victims of crime: that should be the sole responsibility of the criminals who committed the crimes. The role of the state should be simply to effect the swift and smooth transfer of compensation from the criminal to his victim.

If such criminals are not able to pay the compensation that ought to be extracted, tough: let that act as a deterrent.

Knowing that the state can confiscate any and all of your assets and then continue to hound you for the rest of your life until you have paid sufficient compensation to repair the damage you have caused ought to be an additional incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.

The criminal justice system in this country is shot to bits as far as deterrence is concerned. Bystander is always good, but some of the comments to a post of his on this particular topic are extremely illuminating: here is "Katie" on the criminal's view of cautions:

Since I've had a very, very rough life I need have no fear of prison or any meaningful punishment. Just repeated bland admonishments that I'm on my last chance and must not do it again, or I'll be asked not to do it again... again.

Crime might not pay, but it certainly doesn't seem to carry any cost at the moment.

The real problem is that the taxpayer is currently insulating criminals from facing the bill for cleaning up after their actions. Clarke's moronic intervention here is making this problem worse, not better.

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